Infant caribou is protected from wolves in a maternity pen near Revelstoke. Similar protective capture efforts have been done in northeast B.C. as well. (Black Press files)

B.C. communities want say in caribou recovery

Critics say federal plans may leave out other species, local needs

B.C. community leaders have joined the call by a national forest industry group to include them in federal efforts to protect dwindling caribou herds.

The federal Species at Risk Act has listed northern boreal and southern mountain caribou as “threatened,” and the B.C. government is continuing its program to restore habitat and reduce the impact of predators on vulnerable caribou calves.

In the Kootenay and Peace regions, those efforts have included capturing mothers with newborn calves in protective pens, and shooting or poisoning wolves that target caribou herds in winter and early spring.

Chetwynd Mayor Merlin Nichols got support at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention for the federal and provincial governments to include local governments in discussions, and include issues like back-country tourism and other industries in new rules.

“We have government-to-government discussions going on, and we are asked to pick up the crumbs of what is being discussed,” Nichols said.

Tumbler Ridge Mayor Don McPherson said his community deals with grizzly bears that thrive in reclaimed coal mine sites and venture into town, as well as mountain goats and other species that may not be considered in a federal focus on caribou.

“We know the value of our pristine environment and our wildlife,” McPherson said. “We also like paycheques and jobs. We want to be part of the solution.”

RELATED: Caribou ‘North America’s biggest conservation challenge’

The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has released a new report detailing its efforts to research caribou habitat needs and take protective actions. It includes B.C. maternal penning projects and wolf control in B.C., and researching ways to improve lichen growth and protect against cross-species disease transmission in Alberta.

FPAC CEO Derek Nighbor said the report is to highlight progress and build on successful strategies that have been developed over many years. In an interview with Black Press, he said the industry is concerned that a federal focus on one species that may have unintended consequences.

“You have provincially mandated forestry rules out of B.C. that approve forest management plans based on dozens of values – fire suppression, watershed protection, dealing with every mammal, bird and fish that might be living in that harvesting area, where are the calving grounds, where are the eagles’ nests,” Nighbor said.

“We have a number of projects across the country that are starting to pay dividends, so we’d like to see some doubling down on those efforts and expanding those programs.”

The B.C. government’s caribou recovery program warns “the public and industry will not be supportive of all our decisions,” and describes collaboration work needed to bring interests on board.

It also describes the limits of what is possible in a province that has widespread disturbance of the landscape, which has been addressed with protected areas and restrictions on snowmobile and off-road traffic in caribou range.

“Recovering all of B.C.’s caribou herds may not be feasible, without unlimited funding and control over land use,” the recovery program website states. “We need to prioritize our decisions for all 54 herds.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Revelstoke councillor revokes support for raises for mayor and council

Cody Younker proposed the raises in the first place and now no longer supports them

Highway 1 to close west of Revelstoke for avalanche control

DriveBC says the road will be closed between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

LETTER: Cross is a man of integrity and honesty

Dear editor, Another year has gone and wow are things getting better,… Continue reading

City of Revelstoke workers vote to strike

This comes a day after city council gave themselves a raise

VIDEO: WHO says China virus not global health emergency

The decision came after Chinese authorities moved to lock down three cities on Thursday

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Big White warns skiers to avoid tree wells after two fatalities at other resorts

Tree wells form when low branches at the base of coniferous trees stop snow from settling at trunk

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Interior Health issues drug alert in Kamloops

Testing of two samples of drugs sold as crystal meth was positive for fentanyl

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Most Read